Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)

You know, watching this has made me wonder whether or not I actually have seen this before… my records say yes, and I do have it on tape (I know, cos I found it while going through the tape cupboard a while back), but memory wonders otherwise now cos I’m damned if I can really remember any of it. Maybe I was only half watching while taping it, I used to be good at that… anyway, this was as good as a first viewing of the film, which presents us with one of cinema’s great Things That Should Not Be, i.e. a romantic comedy by Ingmar Bergman. I mean, the film actually calls itself that in the opening titles, and it still doesn’t seem right. Watching this again, it was kind of sobering to think Bergman would go from this to The Seventh Seal, which seems far more like the thing he would make than a romantic comedy does. But he did it, and did so in quite an appealing fashion too, helped by a fascinating clump of actors in a terrific turn of the century battle of the sexes… we have a middle-aged lawyer with a child bride and a son who’s madly in love with the latter when he’s not having a go with the maid; now the bride is friends with a young countess whose military husband is having an open affair with an actress who used to be the lawyer’s old flame too. In short, plenty of romantic entanglement to go around, but all will be straightened out for the best. The thought of Ingmar Bergman of all people doing an avowed romantic comedy is still baffling—it was the hit that made the rest of his career possible in some respects even though he never really followed the path it represented again—but the result has much charm to commend it. A damn sight more fun than The Seventh Seal at any rate.

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